Good Lyrics Of The 1980s

Joni_Mitchell_2004It has to be said, it was a bit easier coming up with good ’80s lyrics than it was to come up with crap ones.

I could probably have chosen three or four crackers from many of the artists featured below, but space permits only one.

Maybe it’s not surprising that it was a great decade for lyricists when it was surely one of the most ‘literary’ musical decades to date – it would have to be with people like Bob Dylan, Morrissey, Paddy McAloon, Andy Partridge, Green Gartside, Tracey Thorn, Lloyd Cole, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel and Springsteen around.

So here’s just a sprinkling of my favourites from the ’80s. Let me know yours.

I love you/You pay my rent



‘If you ever feel the time/To drop me a loving line/Maybe you should just think twice/I don’t wait around on your advice’



Brother in the codpiece/I’ve seen him on the TVI think he likes his ladies all sweet and sugary/I’m partial to a pudding/But that’s for second course/The main meal and the hors d’oeuvres must be smothered in hot sauce’

THOMAS DOLBY: ‘Hot Sauce’ (lyrics by George Clinton)


I believe in love/I’ll believe in anything/That’s gonna get me what I want/And get me off my knees’



I want you/It’s the stupid details that my heart is breaking for/It’s the way your shoulders shake and what they’re shaking for’



Hey Mikey/Whatever happened to the f***in’ “Duke Of Earl”?’



If you had that house, car, bottle, jar/Your lovers would look like movie stars’

JONI MITCHELL: ‘The Reoccurring Dream’


‘Lost my shape/Trying to act casual/Can’t stop/I might end up in the hospital’

TALKING HEADS: ‘Crosseyed And Painless’


‘Once there was an angel/An angel and some friends/Who flew around from song to song/Making up the ends’

DANNY WILSON: ‘Never Gonna Be The Same’


Burn down the disco/Hang the blessed DJ’



‘Now the moon’s gone to hell/And the sun’s riding high/I must bid you farewell/Every man has to die/
But it’s written in the starlight/And every line in your palm/We are fools to make war/On our brothers in arms’

DIRE STRAITS: ‘Brothers In Arms’


Out on the road today/I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac/A little voice inside my head said/
Don’t look back, you can never look back…’

DON HENLEY: ‘Boys Of Summer’


‘Hello Johnson/Your mother once gave me a lift back from school/There’s no reason to get so excited/
I’d been playing football with the youngsters/Johnson says don’t dramatise/And you can’t even spell salacious’

PREFAB SPROUT: ‘Horsechimes’


‘I repeat myself when under stress/I repeat myself when under stress/I repeat…’

KING CRIMSON: ‘Indiscipline’


‘Come back Mum and Dad/You’re growing apart/You know that I’m growing up sad/I need some attention/I shoot into the light’

PETER GABRIEL: ‘Family Snapshot’


‘People say that I’m no good/Painting pictures and carving wood/Be a rich man if I could/But the only job I do well is here on the farm/And it’s breaking my back’

XTC: ‘Love On A Farmboy’s Wages’


So long, child/It’s awful dark’

DAVID BOWIE: ‘When The Wind Blows’


I could have been someone/Well so could anyone’



‘It’s an 18 carat love affair/I don’t know which side I’m on/But my best friend John said not to care’



7 thoughts on “Good Lyrics Of The 1980s

  1. Wow, fantastic list, only one glaring one to add: Matt Johnson, The THE. From Perfect:
    “Passing by a cemetery,
    I think of all the little hopes and dreams,
    That lie lifeless and unfulfilled beneath the soil.
    I see an old man fingering his perishing flesh.
    He tells himself he was a good man and did good things.
    Amused and confused by life’s little ironies,
    He swallows his bottle of distilled damnation.”

    I love that guy! So glad you included Prefab Sprout, but of course you did. It’s in your name!


    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Ian, and yep, funnily enough, Matt Johnson came into my mind too, but it was something off ‘Infected’ that I couldn’t shake… Unfortunately I don’t even have that album any more, a serious oversight that I need to correct. But I will listen to ‘Perfect’, I don’t know it or indeed a lot of their stuff. That is a cracking couple of lines right there, though. Glad you dug the Prefab too.


      • Have always dug Prefab, and always will. One of my all time favorite bands. Have to have everything McAloon puts out.
        Yes, please get your hands on a copy of Soul Mining. Jools Holland performs the best piano solo of the 1980’s on the song Uncertain Smile. It is in my top 10 albums of all time, just below Steve McQueen.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Nat, I’d never picked up on the ‘Bo Diddley’ bit! Is that really what he sings? That bit is so catchy.
    And great call on the League, that is a really spooky little lyric. Amazing that it got to number one, in a way. Oakey came up with some other goodies too. I forget the name of the song but one goes, ‘Dehumanisation is such a big word/It’s been around since Richard III’. Not sure if that’s great or crap actually…


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